OPINION: Don’t let the loud few sway you on vaccines, Squamish parents | Squamish Chief

OPINION: Don’t let the loud few sway you on vaccines, Squamish parents

When I was in elementary school, my mom took care of some kids in the neighbourhood.

The sisters got dropped off in the morning when their parents went to work and picked up at dinner.

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I don’t remember much about the girls, but I remember that the kids’ dad used elbow crutches, which I had never seen before.

Mom explained that he had polio as a kid.

She also explained iron lungs, which sounded scary and lonely.

When the little white plastic spoons were placed on a table at school for our ‘polio shots,’ I thought of that dad and was glad I got to take the vaccine and not have to use an iron lung or crutches.

I got the smallpox vaccine, too, which left a little circle on my arm.

In 1980, the World Health Assembly declared smallpox eradicated.

As the anti-vaxxer movement picked up steam locally, at least online, the last few years, I have often thought about that dad and about seeing a vaccine no longer needed.

I mean, the science is beyond clear, but there really is nothing like lived experience.

There is some question whether or not a vaccine to tackle SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, can be ready in time to do any good. If there is one, I will be in line for it and most of you will likely be too, because while there is a small vocal group who oppose vaccinations, most of us are on the same page. According to federal government surveys, most parents in Canada with two-year-old children agree that childhood vaccines are safe (94%) and effective (96%).

And the vast majority of parents understand herd immunity, with 95% agreeing that vaccinating their child protects others.

But the childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey of 2017 also found that 13% of respondents believed alternative practices, such as homeopathy or chiropractic care, can eliminate the need for vaccination.

They can’t.

And  52% were concerned about the potential side effects from vaccines. So, some parents doubt their doctors and the science.

We have learned through this pandemic that we can trust our provincial health officer to keep us safe with her cautious and calm approach.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has repeated the call for parents to immunize, making it an essential service during the pandemic. “It is still incredibly important to protect our children from the other infectious diseases that we know can spread in our communities,” she said on April 15.

Clinics have remained open, so “Keep calm and carry on immunizing.” 

Call the Squamish Health Unit to set up an appointment: 604-892-2293.

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